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President Muhammadu Buhari has assured that he would not allow any deep-pocketed politician to intimidate the electorate with massive war chest in 2023. Buhari said his administration would ensure unimpeded suffrage for eligible Nigerians, and the people’s votes would count during the next general election.

The president spoke at the State House, Abuja, while playing host to members of Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), led by its chairman and governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Bagudu.

Buhari stated, “We will not allow anyone to use personal resources or their influence to intimidate other Nigerians. We will not allow intimidations materially, morally or physically. This is the kind of leadership that can emerge and consolidate our nation.

“In six months, Nigerians will appreciate the government of APC that we are sincere and we respect them.”

He added that APC, under his leadership, would continue to respect Nigerians by ensuring that their votes count and the people’s voice matter in choosing political leaders at all levels.

Buhari said, “I want Nigerians to know that we respect them, and for us to show that, we will allow them to vote who they want. We all witnessed what happened in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states. What happened in those states gives me a lot of hope that we are succeeding.”

He promised Nigerians that APC would continue to bequeath strong political institutions that reflect their choices, through non-interference in elections, citing outcome of polls in Ekiti, Anambra and Osun states as indicators.

Buhari noted that non-interference in elections gave credence to the political process, ensured participation and inclusiveness, and showed that the governing party respected the electorate.

The president urged APC leaders to intensity their “thinking, meeting and strategising for the 2023 elections.”

Earlier, in his remarks, Bagudu thanked the president for his leadership, which he said was guided by wisdom and foresight. The governor said the Nigerian economy had been growing, in spite of challenges.

Bagudu told Buhari, “We want to congratulate you on the positive trajectory of the economy, with the 3.5 per cent growth in the second quarter, up from 3.1 per cent of the first quarter of this year. Infrastructure projects are ongoing in parts of the country, and the social intervention programme is expanding.”

Bagudu said the growth trajectory had defied initial predictions of some multilateral institutions, affirming that the World Bank and others have acknowledged the resilience of the economy, and reviewed their positions.

He said, “Your Excellency, as we speak, there is drought in Europe and China. The Ukraine-Russia war is taking a toll on economies. In the UK, there is rationing of electricity, and energy shortages in China.

“While other countries are banning food export, we are preparing for more production, in spite of floods in places like Jigawa State. We note your instruction for the release of 40,000 tonnes of grains. We also note efforts on improving security and measures to cut oil theft.”

The PGF chairman told the president that some APC governors were contesting elections for second term in 2023 with impressive records in their first term.

According to him, “We note the pronouncement of ASUU. We recall the appeal of the president to ASUU while we were visiting Daura that they should consider the future of students. We will not dwell on that now. We are ready to accept any negotiations for resolution.”

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